Thursday, May 12, 2016

Obama’s Awful Message To Graduates

Townhall.com ^ | March 12, 2016 | Derek Hunter 


Resident Obama wants you to know you aren’t responsible for your actions, and your choices in life aren’t nearly as important as luck. If that sounds stupid, it’s only because it is. Yet that was the message the president told graduating students at Howard University last Saturday, and few things could be more damaging.
The president’s commencement address, widely praised by liberals, was riddled with typically divisive progressive messages and an unfortunate amount of absolution of personal responsibility.
“We can't walk by a homeless man without asking why a society as wealthy as ours allows that state of affairs to occur,” the president said. “We can't just lock up a low-level dealer without asking why this boy, barely out of childhood, felt he had no other options.”
This is the point in the speech where he starts to go off the rails. I understand when the first black president addresses a historically black college’s graduating class that he might carry a message not meant for me, as unproductive as I may think it is. But what he’s doing starting at this point is laying the groundwork for avoiding personal responsibility.
As for that homeless man the president spoke of, not many people are homeless after playing by the rules, working hard and staying within the law. People like that who find themselves in dire straits tend to have friends or family members willing to take them in.
No, the homeless people who are not mentally ill tend to be addicts – drugs or alcohol – or ex-cons who’ve burned all their bridges. Those are the results of choices, freely made. No one shot them up against their will till they were addicted. No one poured alcohol down their throats. No one forced them into crime. Society didn’t “have it out for them” at all. They chose a different path, and their choices had consequences.
The next line, “We can't just lock up a low-level dealer without asking why this boy, barely out of childhood, felt he had no other options,” is easy – bad parenting and progressive politicians who’ve told that kid his whole life the system is “rigged” against him.
How does it help to tell people the system is rigged against them? What will they do when it’s not the system against them but the normal adversity that arrives whenever people work hard for something important? Will they stay the course and try to overcome? Or will they fall on the excuse they’ve been given? Bad choices become easier in this situation, but they’re still bad choices.
“We have cousins and uncles and brothers and sisters who we remember were just as smart and just as talented as we were, but somehow got ground down by structures that are unfair and unjust,” the president continued.
Again, Obama is acting like the Pope here absolving people of the choices they made and the consequences of those choices. Those people, were “ground down” by racism, he says. Here’s a tip: If your life sucks, 99.99 times out of 100 it’s your fault. Society isn’t “unfair and unjust;” it doesn’t know or care you exist.
Next came the crux of the horrible message the president was selling. “And that means we have to not only question the world as it is, and stand up for those African Americans who haven't been so lucky -- because, yes, you've worked hard, but you've also been lucky. That's a pet peeve of mine: People who have been successful and don't realize they've been lucky. That God may have blessed them; it wasn't nothing you did. So don't have an attitude.”
No, Mr. President, it was something they did. These kids who worked their asses off to earn their degrees did, in fact, “build that.” Luck had nothing to do with it; choices did.
They chose to work hard in high school to get into a good college. They chose to resist the temptations available to everyone. They chose to set a goal and accomplish it.
Perhaps the president believes luck is the overriding factor in life because he’s been so lucky. Without seeing his sealed school records, it’s unclear how a member of the Choom Gang who dabbled in cocaine in high school got into (let alone paid for) some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, so maybe he was lucky. But luck, for most people, is a reflection of how hard they work.
It’s luck when you win money in a casino; it’s not luck when a series of good choices culminate in their intended end. To insult graduates with a “if the coin had come up tails, you’d be in prison or on the streets” mentality misses the point of effort and cheapens earning.
That’s the president’s real goal. He and his fellow progressives want people to view effort as a sucker’s bet and the concept of earning something worthy of contempt. Society used to admire those who sacrificed, risked and achieved; now they’re the object of scorn.
The truth is, however your life is right now, was in the past, and will be in the future is a direct result of the choices you make. Barring catastrophe, no one choice will make or break you, which is why it’s important to make the best one possible when presented to you. Luck matters in coin tosses, not life.
You will not find successful people claiming luck as the key to their achievements unless they’re attempting to be humble. You will find losers blaming a lack of luck for their shortcomings and accusing the successful of being lucky because the concept of hard work and smart choices paying off is resented. But their dislike of reality makes it no less so.
The president did the students of Howard a major disservice, the same disservice he and his political fellow travelers have done to millions of Americans over generations. In absolving them of personal responsibility he’s discouraging them from trying, from striving to achieve.
In that sense, when the most powerful man in the world is telling you the system is rigged against you, he might be right.

What Government Can't Do

Townhall.com ^ | May 12, 2016 | Mona Charen 

Let's call this the most unsurprising headline of the year so far: "Marriage Increases the Odds of Surviving Cancer, Studies Find." Next thing you know they'll be discovering that salt makes you thirsty. I'm not actually belittling the science, more the opposite. Even the most cursory glance at social science data accumulated over the past, oh, 150 years provides copious evidence that we humans do better pair-bonded for life. And if data doesn't convince you, there's also literature, anecdote, tradition and intuition. But let's stick with science for now.
Two studies published in the journal Cancer found that among 800,000 adults diagnosed with cancer between 2000 and 2009, those who were married survived the disease at higher rates than single people -- much higher rates. Especially men. The death rate among unmarried women was 19 percent higher than for married women, and for unmarried men the rate was 27 percent higher. The researchers controlled for factors such as income, health insurance status, race, and more but still found that marriage was a key variable. Scarlett Lin Gomez of the Cancer Prevention Institute, one of the authors, told The Washington Post that money does not explain her results but that "social support" is a "key factor."
It's interesting about the men, isn't it? Marriage confers many benefits on women (though the early feminists were venomously anti-marriage), but study after study has found that when it comes to health and longevity, men benefit even more than women from tying the knot (and keeping it tied).
The Harvard Men's Health Watch, for example, cites a report from the Framingham Offspring Study that evaluated 3,682 adults over a 10-year period for heart-related conditions. Even after taking into account major risk factors such as age, body fat percentage, smoking, blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol, married men had a 46 percent lower rate of death than unmarried men.
Other studies cited by Harvard have found that married men have lower levels of depression, reduced incidence of Alzheimer's disease, improved blood sugar levels, and, as in the studies mentioned above, lower levels of cancer and better survival rates after diagnosis.
When examined through the marriage lens, other differentials in American life can be understood as flowing from this most basic of human relationships. Marriage confers not just health and longevity, but wealth, life satisfaction, community engagement and other social goods. There is a large income gap between white and black Americans. But the marriage rate among African-Americans has been significantly below that of others for several generations (though the white and Hispanic rates of unmarried parenting are sharply increasing). According to 2010 Census data, African-American two-earner married couples had mean incomes above the national average for married couples.
Unfortunately, married couples are the minority in the black community. Sixty-six percent of black children are raised in single parent homes, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The rate for Hispanics is 42 percent and for non-Hispanic whites, 25 percent. In 2013, half of all mothers aged 30 and younger were unwed.
The results of the retreat from marriage have been evident in the black community for some time -- but were co-morbid with other things. Were the high crime rates and poor school performance the result of the collapse of marriage or the residue of slavery and Jim Crow? Were the higher rates of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease in the African-American community related to family structure or poverty, and if the latter, was the poverty the cause or the effect of family structure?
With the Hispanic and white populations now retreating from marriage as well, many of the pathologies that had been politely called "inner city" woes -- widespread drug abuse, joblessness, mental illness and school failure -- are on the upswing among whites. And now there is no comparable history of discrimination to cloud the picture.
Last year, Anne Case and Angus Deaton of Princeton published a much-discussed paper showing that the death rate among middle-aged non-Hispanic whites was increasing and that the rise was attributable to behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse and suicide. I wrote to Deaton asking whether he and his wife had analyzed the data for marriage. He said no, but someone should.
In 1989, Irving Kristol declined to embrace fully any triumphalism about our victory over the communist world in the Cold War. The cultural cold war, Kristol wrote, was not won but lost. Our political crises are to a very considerable degree downstream of our cultural ones.